Columbia County middle and high schoolpupils had a shortened day Wednesday.
Worsening weather conditions forced school officials to pull the plug on the school day 30 minutes earlier than normal so buses could return to elementary schools to run their normal routes.
And that created headaches for some parents.
Ka-Cee Vaughan had three of her own children and two of her neighbor's children to pick up early.
Patrick McCorkell, 6, tries to hit his sister Madison, 4, with a snowball as his mother picks him up early from Brookwood Elementary School.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"I kind of think it's silly letting them go a half-hour early. It doesn't make sense to me," Vaughan said.
Across the area, parents waited and watched as the snow fell. When it came time for pupils to go home, many parents remained at work, while others scrambled to make arrangements.
Ella-Mae Burke, an Augusta Arthritis Center nurse, called Greenbrier High School around noon to have her son Richard, a senior, and Theresa, a 10th-grader, dismissed. Richard then went to pick up his sister Katie, a first-grader, at Riverside Elementary School.
"We're from Maryland, and I know people here can't drive in snow, so I wasn't worried so much about my son driving in it, as I was worried about people around here," she said. "I didn't know the schools were closed until I got home, and I wouldn't have known. It would have shocked me had I not made arrangements beforehand."
In a statement issued by the school system, officials said they did not want to release elementary pupils early because of the potential lack of supervision. Parents were allowed to pick their children up early without the child being counted absent.Schools also were closed Thursday.
As cars lined up and buses pulled out at Evans Middle School, pupils out front were practicing winter warfare, hurling snowballs with red, bare hands.
The snow, which beganWednesday, made the first day back to school after the holidays a strange one.
"It was distracting watching it snow all day," said Ariana Creighton, a sixth-grader.
Many of the pupils who left early caught the bus home - the same as they do most days. But it was still a surprise for Anna Long, whose son is a sixth-grader at Columbia Middle.
"He rode the bus home, so he got here about 10 minutes before I did," she said. "I was like, 'Oh, you're home."'
The abbreviated day created little heartache for Nena Padgett, a third-grade teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary School. Her son Joshua, a ninth-grader on the football team at Lakeside, rode home with a friend, and her daughter Annalise, a sixth-grader at Riverside Middle School, rode the bus home.
"If they had closed the school at 12 today, then there would have been a problem," Padgett said.
But no matter what time the pupils were released, it wouldn't have been an issue for many of the parents who work at local hospitals.
"It's not possible for our employees to have a mass exodus to go and pick up their kids," said Jeffrey Simless, vice president of business development for Doctors Hospital.
Other businesses could be a little more flexible.
"Obviously we're not going to tell our employees 'No, you can't go pick up your kid or meet them at home,"' said Bill Botham, public relations manager for Comcast. "I think we have such a diverse work force, we have so many without children and employees of all ages, so that if they need to cover for an employee that has to pick up a child, it's not a problem."
Preston Sparks contributed to this article
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